JLF Research Archive

Showing items 426 to 450 of 507

(9.10.02) Agenda 2002: A Candidateís Guide to Key Issues in North Carolina Public Policy

North Carolina’s state budget reflects its governmental priorities. Unfortunately, over the past two decades governors and lawmakers have usually chosen to add new programs to the state budget without considering the merits of existing programs and finding ways to fund higher-priority items by eliminating lower priorities. As a result, the budget has grown by leaps and bounds, interrupted only briefly by retrenchment during recessionary periods, including the past three fiscal years. Until state leaders learn to exercise fiscal discipline or to write fiscal discipline into law via a strong expenditure limit the budget problem will worsen.


(8.27.02) A Budget No-Brainer: Merge House, Senate Budgets to Eliminate Deficit

As House and Senate leaders negotiate a final budget package for FY 2002-03, they should resist the usual temptation to "logroll" — to add in spending items favored by the other side — and instead accept the lower of the two chambers' previously approved figures for every department as well as the higher of the two chambers' previously approved fund transfers. With such "reverse logrolling," lawmakers could balance the state budget without a tax increase.


(8.06.02) Another Rickety Budget: House Plan Follows Senate Lead on Future Tax Hike

At this writing, the N.C. House is considering a revised General Fund budget of $14.3 billion, balanced largely by raising state taxes by $166 million, raiding $255 million from highway funds and $156 million from local governments, and achieving net budget savings of $478 million. Unfortunately, the news for taxpayers is likely to be worse next year, given the use of some $666 million in one-time money for expenses likely to recur — setting the stage for another tax increase.


(8.05.02) Socialism for Capitalists: New Incentives Wonít Aid North Carolina Economy

Gov. Easley's new incentives proposal would put political appointees into the position of doling out special tax breaks that amount to grants of taxpayer money to private businesses. Because of the unpredictable nature of a free-market economy, such a policy cannot claim to boost overall economic growth. A better policy would be to reduce North Carolina sky-high marginal tax rates on personal income, investment, and capital gains - which are among the highest in the country.


(6.19.02) A Placeholder Budget: 2002-03 Plan Relies on Immediate, Future Tax Hikes

The N.C. Senate is debating its proposed budget, which would reduce authorized FY 2002-03 spending by $585 million. Most of the $1.4 billion budget gap, however, would be closed with one-time revenues, including tax hikes and fund diversions, that will reportedly create a recurring deficit in FY 2003-04 approaching $800 million. Some leaders propose closing that gap with tax hikes, too, meaning that the total annual tax burden will have grown $1.4 billion from 2001 to 2003.


(6.05.02) Adjust the Tax Code: State Economy Needs the Presidentís Stimulus

The state legislature is currently considering the idea of "decoupling" North Carolina's income tax code from the federal tax code in order to avoid implementation of several tax reductions associated with a federal economic-stimulus package. But North Carolina's weakened economy desperately needs the $258 million boost that adjusting state taxes on business and personal investment would provide. Policymakers could offset any revenue loss by reducing spending.


(6.03.02) The Miseducation Lottery: Public Presented With Inflated Revenues, Benefits

Gov. Mike Easley's proposed budget for FY 2002-03 includes $250 million in revenue from a state-run lottery that has yet to be enacted. Among many legitimate objections to the administration's idea are that expected net revenue is inflated by between 37 percent and 62 percent - creating a hole in the budget of as much as $96 million — and that the administrative costs of the lottery tax exceed both the cost of alternative taxes and any revenue "loss" to out-of-state lotteries.


(5.28.02) Easley Budget Hikes Taxes: 2002-03 Spending, Revenue Ideas Deserve Scrutiny

Gov. Mike Easley's proposed budget adjustments for FY 2002-03 help to frame the coming fiscal debate in North Carolina. The plan relies primarily on increasing revenues ó including more than $400 million in tax hikes, $250 million from a theoretical state lottery, and $210 million from raiding the stateĎs Highway Trust Fund ó rather than on budget savings. And contrary to the governor's assertion, his plan would increase state spending in the midst of a fiscal emergency.


(5.06.02) Changing Course V: An Updated Alternative Budget for North Carolina

With news of a worsening state budget and a weakened state economy, Locke Foundation analysts have updated last year's alternative budget with new projected savings and tax changes for FY 2002-03. The resulting Changing Course V budget would eliminate the deficit, repeal last year's hikes in sales and income taxes, stimulate the economy through additional tax relief and highway investment, and protect highpriority items such as public safety and classroom teachers.


(5.06.02) Changing Course V: An Updated Alternative Budget for North Carolina

With news of a worsening state budget and a weakened state economy, Locke Foundation analysts have updated last year's alternative budget with new projected savings and tax changes for FY 2002-03. The resulting Changing Course V budget would eliminate the deficit, repeal last year's hikes in sales and income taxes, stimulate the economy through additional tax relief and highway investment, and protect highpriority items such as public safety and classroom teachers.


(5.01.02) Good Spin, Bad Science: American Lung Association Report Deserves Scorn

The American Lung Association's annual "State of the Air" reports are treated as scientific and informative by the state news media. They are neither. They use outdated information that reflect changing weather patterns rather than real pollution and are biased against jurisdictions like North Carolina with high numbers of ozone monitors. As a result, the reports supply propaganda for lobbyists for heavier regulation but do a great disservice to science and the general public.


(4.17.02) Truth or Consequences: Official Data Tell Real Story about NC Fiscal Woes

In recent months, public officials have made a range of statements in an attempt to explain persistent state and local budget woes. Many of these assertions do not square with the facts. A collection of graphs and tables shows clearly that North Carolina government is out of line with neighboring states in spending, employment, and taxes. Moreover, revenue growth outpaced personal income growth during the 1990s, while debt service costs are projected to triple over 10 years.


(4.15.02) Warning Signs: A Survey of North Carolina Business Leaders

A 2002 survey of North Carolina’s most politically active business executives found that they did not necessarily agree with the current direction of public policy in the state. Business leaders from every region answered questions about fiscal policy, education, transportation, tax rates, regulation, and ways to improve economic competitiveness. They disagreed strongly with legislative decisions to raise taxes.


(3.21.02) Junk Science on Soot: Flawed Study Can't Justify Clean Smokestacks Bill

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association alleges a significant increase in lung cancer risk for those exposed to high-levels of particulate matter, commonly called soot. In North Carolina, the news media and others have cited the study to boost support for the proposed Clean Smokestacks bill. But according to expert analysis, the study is so flawed that it should have been rejected by the journal. Moreover, it does not establish a case for new regulation.


(3.21.02) The Smokestacks Tax: Who Pays, and How Much, With New Regulations

To date, debate over the proposed Clean Smokestacks bill has focused primarily on the purported air-quality benefits, which would be negligible. Little attention has been paid to the cost, which could be substantial given North Carolina's already high electricity and tax rates compared to its neighbors'. This study estimates the impact on such institutions as school districts and manufacturers. The higher prices and lost jobs must be weighed against any potential benefits.


(3.07.02) Foggy Facts on Smog: NC Ozone Levels Aren't Bad or Getting Worse

Flawed studies and ignorance about North Carolina air quality have given lawmakers and the general public an inaccurate picture of trends in ground-level ozone, or "smog," in some cases exaggerating public exposure by a factor of 10. This study reexamines air-quality data from monitors across the state, concluding that exposure to dangerous ozone levels is surprisingly rare - and is dropping even without passage of the proposed "Clean Smokestacks" legislation.


(2.18.02) State of Emergency: Time to Rework Economic Development Policy

North Carolina's approach to economic development policy has failed, with the stateís high tax burden, lack of industrial diversity, and hostility to entrepreneurial effort contributing to a painful decline in employment and competitiveness. Public policymakers should rethink their reliance on central-planning models and schemes to subsidize specific businesses or regions. Instead, the state should lower taxes and avoid costly regulatory mistakes like the "Clean Smokestacks" bill.


(2.07.02) By the Numbers 2002: What Government Costs in North Carolina Cities and Counties

By the Numbers 2002: What Government Costs in North Carolina Cities and Counties is a publication of the Center for Local Innovation, a division of the John Locke Foundation. Its purpose is to inform North Carolinians about their local governments and promote debate and discussion about the future of city and county fiscal policy in North Carolina. It is not intended to advance or impede legislation before local, state, or federal lawmaking bodies.


(1.28.02) Will It Be Sami So-So? Caution Warranted on New Air-Quality Studies

The Southern Appalachian Mountain Initiative (SAMI) is a consortium of eight Southeastern states, including North Carolina, and several federal agencies. It is now beginning to publish its research, more than a decade in the making, and will likely help to shape the debate on air quality for years. State policymakers should be cautious in interpreting SAMI data and analyses, however, due to troubling signs that it may not be looking at both sides of the regulatory equation.


(1.23.02) A New Year, A New Hole: NC Must Close Budget Gap While Cutting Taxes

According to state economists, North Carolina will face another budget deficit in FY 2001-02 of between $450 million and $900 million. The state's economy, weighted down by high taxes and poor public services, continues to lag behind the rest of the country. Unlike last year, policymakers cannot exempt such big-ticket items as Floyd relief, tobacco-settlement funds, universities, Medicaid, and bonds from scrutiny - and they should consider repealing last year's tax hikes.


(12.28.01) State Made Its Fiscal Bed: Escalating Budgets Imperiled Finances Before Floyd

Responding to Gov. Jim Hunt's call for $830 million in emergency hurricane relief, state lawmakers have nearly drained the state's rainy day fund. Calls for state tax hikes or a new borrowing binge have only been put off until the 2000 legislative session. But state leaders have no one to blame for the coming budget crisis but themselves. As national data reveal, North Carolina has hiked spending far more rapidly than the average state with little regard for the long-term impact.


(12.20.01) Is NC Really Undertaxed? Release of Progress Board Report Spreads Myths

A report released last week by the North Carolina Progress Board contained hundreds of long-term goals for the state. But the text was overshadowed by the comments of board member and UNC-W Chancellor James Leutze, who said the report showed North Carolina would never make it to the top tier of states without tax increases. Leutze's remarks were ill-timed and ill-informed but reflect the conventional wisdom about taxes and social progress. Itís wrong.


(12.14.01) Don't Tap Rainy Day Fund: State Package Overstates Proper State Relief Role

State lawmakers are being asked to tap the rainy day fund to finance hurricane relief. They should look more closely at the details of the administration proposal. It provides large windfalls to businesses, farmers, homeowners, and others far beyond what is needed to alleviate immediate suffering and repair public infrastructure. A relief plan reflecting better priorities could be financed with budget savings, so the rainy day fund could be used to repay $240 million in illegal taxes.


(12.07.01) N.C. Budget Behemoth: General Fund Grows At Nearly Twice The U.S. Rate

North Carolina's 1998-99 state budget grew by between 10 percent and 11 percent (depending on the measurement used) compared with the national average for state budget growth of only 5.4 percent. This follows a similar pattern last year. Growth in spending on Medicaid and education fueled North Carolina's exceptional budget increase. Overall, North Carolina spends more of its budget on education and correction, and less on Medicaid, than the average state. This mostly reflects differences in responsibilities given to local government.


(12.01.01) Measuring Up: How North Carolina's Faculty Salaries Compare

Author Jon Sanders studies professor salaries across the United States and finds that the pay of North Carolina's college and university professors, when adjusted for cost of living, is comparable to the pay of faculty in other states. (Not available online.)


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